Riverside shooting suspect was ‘a desperate man.’ What we know about Aaron Luther
The man who got into a gun battle with the California Highway Patrol in Riverside, killing Officer Andre Moye and injuring two other CHP officers, had a lengthy criminal record.
The shooter has been identified by family members and law enforcement sources as 49-year-old Aaron Luther, who was killed in the barrage of bullets. Authorities have not publicly released his name.
Here’s what we know about the deadly encounter that unfolded Monday following a traffic stop:
What kind of record did Luther have?
Luther had a lengthy criminal record dating to the late 1980s in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, according to public records and law enforcement sources.
His convictions include disturbing the peace, vandalism, battery, stalking, unlawful possession of a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon and corporal injury on a spouse. He was convicted of burglary and attempted second-degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for use of a firearm in Los Angeles County in 1994. He was sentenced to 12 years in state prison, according to the California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, and was paroled in 2004.
Luther’s father told KABC-TV Channel 7 that his son called his wife after being pulled over Monday evening. He told her his truck was being impounded and asked her to come pick him up. She arrived amid the gun battle, the TV station reported.
“She said she heard pop-pop-pop gunfire — and then a bullet went through the windshield of her car,” Dennis Luther said.
Local investigators initially thought Luther had ties to the Vagos motorcycle gang, one of the nation’s largest and most dangerous outlaw biker gangs, alongside Hells Angels and the Mongols.
However, federal experts familiar with the Vagos say he is not a member.
What was the motive for the attack?
Authorities said they still are not sure what prompted the shooting.
Dennis Luther told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that his son was a “desperate man” and had recently been depressed. He was trying to turn his life around after spending time in prison, Dennis Luther told the station.
“I think he just thought he didn’t have much to live for,” Dennis Luther said. “This might just have been suicide by the police. It’s just unfortunate that he happened to hurt anybody but himself.”
Authorities gave the following account:
The situation began at 5:35 p.m., when Moye, 34, stopped the driver of a white GMC pickup for an unknown offense at the Eastridge Avenue/Eucalyptus Avenue offramp. At some point during the traffic stop, Moye decided to impound the vehicle and called for a tow truck.
It was not immediately clear where Luther was heading when he was stopped. While Moye was filling out paperwork, the driver got a rifle from his truck and started shooting at the officer.
Moye returned fire, and even though he had been shot, he was able to radio for help. Three other CHP officers soon arrived, followed by three deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and at least one officer from the Riverside Police Department, authorities said.
What do we know about the officer who died?
Moye had been with the California Highway Patrol about three years. Family members said he previously worked as an electrician but had dreamed of being an officer since he was a child.
He graduated from the CHP Academy on March 3, 2017, and was assigned to the Riverside County area.
Videos posted to Moye’s YouTube account show him and his wife, Sara, zip-lining and snorkeling during a vacation in 2014 in the Riviera Maya in Mexico and riding personal watercraft through the canyons at Lake Powell in Arizona a year later. In one video, Moye grins while suspended on a zip-line high above the trees in Mexico.
He is survived by his wife, his father, mother and stepfather, and several siblings, authorities said.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.